1. “Empire and Its Consequences
Ever notice the way certain basic human values quietly transform into their opposite on their way to becoming national policy? (Image: VeteransToday.com)
At the human level, the immorality of murder is fundamental, and most people understand the insanity of armed hatred. Keeping these dark forces under wraps is essential to the existence of human society. So why is it, then, that at the abstract level of nationalism, those forces are honored, worshiped, saluted, extolled as glorious, and given command of an enormous budget?
Why is it that their perpetuation via increasingly sophisticated technology is equated with national security and no one talks about the completely predictable negative consequences of basing security on murder and hatred?
And why does it feel so naïve to be asking such questions?
It’s as though the arrangement was settled four or five millennia ago. Killing is wrong, but we have to kill one another, you know, in self-defense, in order to survive. And hating people is wrong — mocking them, dehumanizing them — but some people ask for it. They do it to us, so we have no choice but to do it back. Hate, dehumanize, eliminate our enemies and . . . voila, we’re safe, at least for the time being. What don’t you get about that?
Criticism of such policy is generally couched in terms that remove the alleged naïveté of the criticism, but I’m wondering if it isn’t time to stare directly at the fundamental wrongness of war. Let me put it as nakedly as I can: A policy of murder and hatred is, in itself, morally wrong as well as strategically untenable. Anything that flows from such a policy, even if it seems to be beneficial — such as regional dominance, access to oil, suppression of an enemy’s power or plain old revenge — is inherently unstable and doomed to disastrous failure. This may be the way empires act, but it’s bad policy. If it creates “collateral damage,” it’s bad policy.
This is the morality of empire, the morality of domination. We didn’t invent it; we just carry on the tradition, which goes back through colonialism and slavery to the Inquisition (“kill them all, let God sort them out”) to Rome (“they create a wasteland and call it peace”) and beyond, to the dawn of civilization.”
2. “Nonviolent Protester of Drone Wars Sentenced to Federal Prison
Below is the statement I made to the court. Judge Whitworth took great offense at my reference to Air Force security personnel as “goosestepping riot police.” Comparing our fighting men to Nazis (the judge’s word, not mine) was reprehensible, he said. He is not offended, apparently, by goosestepping US military police intimidating nonviolent protestors, nor by Air Force drones committing crimes against humanity and murdering children. Mentioning these embarrassing facts, however, is an affront to good manners.
Many thanks for love, prayers and solidarity from many quarters.
Brian Terrell’s statement at sentencing, US District Court, Jefferson City, Missouri, October 11, 2012:
Mark Twain called free speech the “privilege of the grave,” a privilege never afforded the living save as an empty formality, not to be regarded seriously as an actual possession. “As an active privilege, it ranks with the privilege of committing murder: we may exercise it if we are willing to take the consequences. Murder is forbidden both in form and in fact; free speech is granted in form but forbidden in fact….Murder is sometimes punished, free speech always.”
Punishing free speech and letting murder off the hook is the order of the day in this courtroom.
How to speak of an appropriate sentence where no crime has been committed? No crime committed, at least, by the defendants? Last month’s trial in this courtroom concerning a protest of killer drones flown from Whiteman Air Force Base left no doubt that this is the case.
Each of the government’s witnesses, all of them Air Force police personnel, testified that participants in this protest were nonviolent, respectful and peaceable in assembling at Whiteman Air Force Base, a government installation, to petition that government for redress of a grievance, demanding that the remote control killing carried out daily from Whiteman cease. They testified that at no time, before or during our protest, did they perceive us as a threat.”
3. “Martha Raddatz and the faux objectivity of journalists
Establishment journalists are creatures of a highly ideological world and often cause ideology to masquerade as neutral fact.”